Corinne’s Dr. Peterson Visit
Let me begin by listing my reasons for writing this.
- to share my experiences with everyone who’s interested but may never intend to see Dr. Peterson.
- To give some insight to anyone who might be considering making an appointment but may have concerns regarding what it may entail
- To help someone prepare for a scheduled appointment to see Dr. Peterson
Becoming A Patient
Like many of you I had always dreamed of seeing a real, honest-to-goodness, CFS/ME specialist. Like most of you, over the course of 18+ years with this illness, I have vacillated between times of doing nothing medically with times of seeking out new treatment or alternative approaches. Usually after a disappointing expensive visit with yet another uninformed physician or practitioner I would throw up my hands, deciding it was all a complete waste of energy, time and money (E, T and $) and then spend another year or two resigned to just feeling awful and dealing with it.
My health had declined enough recently to kickstart me back into the ‘proactive ‘mode but this time I wanted to see one of the best. After some investigation and finding that most of the notable names were not taking new patients or had waiting lists 1 to 2 years long I decided on Sierra Internal Medicine and Dr. Daniel Peterson.
Realizing that he too had a long waiting list, I filled out the application they sent me, asked my GP to write a short referral, copied all my many medical records, wrote the required paragraph or two about myself and mailed it all back. I hadn’t even seen him yet and it was already overwhelming! Pacing myself appropriately it took two months to complete everything.
After mailing my package certified mail I waited and waited and waited and waited…there was not a word. After communicating with the office staff it was determined that my file had been received, however, due to the hiring of a new office manager and a three-month absence of the head nurse , I was told it would probably be best to refile. Yikes! Do it all again? Grrrr….I’d have to think about this awhile.
Meanwhile my headaches were getting so bad that my GP referred me to a neurologist. After making an appointment I was surprised to receive the phone call from his receptionist. He was calling to cancel the appointment- not reschedule but cancel! It seems that after receiving my records the neurologist decided he didn’t want to see me. Because I have CFS he didn’t think “he could help me because he knows nothing about it” said the receptionist. Are you kidding me? Now that was a first for me.
If I needed incentive to refile with Dr. Peterson this was it. I’d officially had enough with uninformed doctors. If I was going to spend my precious E, T and $ it was going to be spent at the top. Lo and behold after redoing the application I received a phone call within the week an appointment within the month. Wow!
But now the hard part. Like most of you traveling is very difficult for me. I am primarily housebound – so how could I manage a 1600 round-trip trek? Like most of you money is not easy to come by… how much would all this cost? More than anything I was excited but was also afraid…. How hard would this be on my health? Would I be able to handle the many tests I knew I’d be asked to take? Would Dr. Peterson require numerous repeat visits?
I ended up pestering the office staff was so many other questions that I felt uncomfortable bothering them with more. (In fact halfway through the first day of my visit I was labeled “the Queen of Questions” by Dr. Peterson’s exercise physiologist. Go figure J)
“Queen of Questions” is not the only name I had been dubbed with by a medical practitioner. My G.I. practitioner called me her “high maintenance” patient. While she pretended to be joking I knew she was serious. Those of us with CFS/ME are indeed high maintenance. It’s one of the side effects of being chronically ill.
Because of this my best option for traveling is by RV and being fortunate enough to own one it was my vehicle of choice for the journey. Even though it was 25 years old, which gave my husband worries regarding the trek through deserts and over mountains, they (the RV and my husband J) accepted the job. With a fridge containing my favorite foods and beverages, my favorite pillows, soaps and shampoos, my wheelchair and earplugs all close by the RV was the only way I could imagine tackling the trip.
The beauty of this is that I had received permission from the property management company to remain parked in Dr. P’s lot for the duration of our visit. What a blessing! What turned out to be multiple visits to the office would now simply involve a short wheelchair ride from the RV to the elevator to Dr. P.’s office on the third floor. So on Tuesday morning, June 9th, we hit the road. Six days and 800 miles later (we stopped to smell the roses on the way) we arrived in incline Village and parked our 27 footer in our designated spot. We’d made it!
Day One: the Office
The building that houses Dr. P.’s office is properly named the Centrepointe Building as for the next week it would be the center point of my life. I didn’t think I had any preconceived notions of what it would look like but when I saw the simple, rustic structure I was a bit surprised. After all, for me I was visiting a place that could be considered as equal in “awe factor” as Graceland would be for a rock ‘n roll buff or Cooperstown to a baseball fanatic.
THIS WAS INCLINE VILLAGE. THIS WAS THE OFFICE OF DANIEL PETERSON, MD. THIS IS WHERE THE MODERN ERA OF CFS STARTED IN 1984!!
In my opinion there should have been a “National Historic Place” plaque out in front. But even though there wasn’t , reading his name in the directory gave me goosebumps. From the day I was handed my first CFIDS Chronicle in 1991 Dr. P has been one of my heroes. Entering his office made my heart pound. I was so nervous that when the nurse took my blood pressure was it was skyhigh @ 110/75!!!! (Well, skyhigh for me :)).
Next up: Meeting Dr. Peterson